There’s a frequently overlooked, but crucial discrepancy, between our perception of ‘success’ and ‘happiness’. Often, seemingly successful people are concealing a deep sense of loneliness, emptiness or a profound sense of something missing from their life. We live in an ironic world where success as we understand actually creates this sense of isolation. We achieve what we think will make us happy, then realise the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow hasn’t made us as wealthy as we thought – well, only in the material sense anyway!
Success for the human heart is vastly different to what is perceived as success culturally. We are trained to ‘desire’ material objects as a means of demonstrating our ‘success’ to the outside world and ourselves. Our true ‘need’ is fundamentally very different.
Beside the physical need for food and water, humans have emotional need, summarised in one word – love. Love comes in many forms, friendship, in all its forms, being the most enduring. Greek philosopher Aristotle devoted several chapters of his work ‘Ethics’ to contemplate friendship. He articulates friendship as being ‘someone who wishes what is good for the other’. Unfortunately, in much the same way as we seek our ‘success’ externally, in terms of money, promotion, power and the material trappings that follow, we habitually seek our friendships and other love relationships externally. While friendships with other humans, and animals, can be beautiful, fulfilling and deeply meaningful, the foundation of all our friendships should begin internally; by being your own best friend! Aristotle’s description of friendship is a succinct interpretation of the most fundamental aspect of friendship – wishing the other well. If this is the true meaning of friendship; ask yourself the question – am I a true friend to myself? What does wishing someone well comprise of? What would you expect from a friend?
Aristotle also hints at the thorny problem created if friendship is only externalised; with no sense of being a friend to yourself. He notes “our feelings towards our friends reflect our feelings towards oneself”. The complexity of our inner sense of self worth, and self love, is therefore reflected in how we consider and treat our friends. Without an abundant sense of self understanding, self compassion and self-friending, we are likely to damage and impair our relationships with others. This creates the paradoxical situation of self-loathing being a successful strategy for self destruction. If you can’t befriend and show compassion to yourself you are likely to reflect your own self-aversion in your external friendships and other relationships.
Yet our society doesn’t promote self compassion or self love does it? The chatterbox in our head is more than likely spending the day undermining, judging and criticising us. We’re often our own severest critic condemning ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally. Yet the truth is the more we berate ourselves the more we are likely to berate others.
Cultivating the idea being your own soul-mate is crucial to developing a deep sense of internal unity. Rather than allowing that chatterbox to criticise and judge you at every turn, start to treat yourself as you would like to be treated by your best friend or lover. Offer yourself compassion, consideration and love! Take time to explore your inner self. The you beneath all the cultural beliefs and expectations. The soulful essence within you.
But how do you even start to do this? It sounds quite foreign to most people to begin with. Being your own soul mate means engaging with your own feelings rather than allow ‘thoughts’ to control you. Thoughts in terms of opinions, attitudes and perceptions are often ultimately the manifestation and sum total of society’s perceptions and beliefs – the core of these being that thought is rational and feelings and emotions are not. Yet the very essence of you is feeling not thought.
To re-engage with the natural, innate you requires some practice. Learning to meditate for just fifteen minutes a day is a solid first step to mindful self-friendship. It allows you the opportunity to compassionately and empathically exploring how situations during your day made you feel.
Allow stressful thoughts to enter your consciousness, explore them gently and with compassion, then allow them to float away on the breeze, letting go of any residual pain they have stored in your body. Travel to ideas that may have entered your head during the day, ponder where you got your reaction to them – is this really your true feeling? Contemplate each thought gently. Experience how it makes you feel rather than focussing on the thought itself. This is you exploring the truest, purest form of you.
Being your own best friend starts with understanding, listening and being compassionate and empathic towards yourself. All the things you’d seek in an external best friend. Get to know you – the real you and you’ll find a sense of harmony and unity begins to settle. That harmony will reflect in your external friendships. It’s the first principle of the law of attraction. But it has to be authentic and sincere, so set off on a liberating journey of being your own best friend!
Hi Dawn, thanks ever so much for your feedback - I really needed a confidence boost so I REALLY appreciated your feedback. Ok I'l make sure I put this in blog posts - sorry my first time wasn't sure what I was doing!!
Dawn Katzin said:
Amanda, what a terrific article. Fantastic!!! The only thing moving forward is you would post this under blog posts instead of forum. Also, with every post, be sure to include a 60 word bio with about two links. Sending this to be included into March multimedia edition